The Akili Girls’ Preparatory School is a gateway out of poverty for both the students and the teachers. Students attending the school come from the most dire conditions — living in extreme poverty and no path out. Through the efforts of the project’s cofounders David and Erick, and their commitment to giving women and girls a chance to succeed through quality, free, this community is beginning to transform.
My name is David Omondi, and together with Erick Otieno, we founded and now manage the Riley Orton Foundation. Through this organization, we have created a number of projects aimed at supporting women and girls of the Obunga slum.
I returned to this community after college because I believe that real change can be achieved from within the community itself, and because I believe in the power of women to change the world. Without support their potential goes un-realized. My partner Erick often speaks about the incredible efforts his mother made to support us through our lives, and how that acts as inspiration for the work we continue with today. He says:
“I have a vision that a time will come when girls in Africa will be seen as equal as boys and treated with the same respect and opportunities. The time will come when resources will not be the limiting factor for a girl to attain an education and to achieve her goals. The time will come when African women will know that everything is possible for them. Whatever a woman touches, she touches with all her heart, and it is forever transformed.”
We have 2 key projects that support our vision:
The Akili Girls’ Boarding School
Our boarding school in Obambo village, Kisumu is still under construction, but we are currently providing a home to 30 girls in the 3rd and 4th grades. In the next year we expect to increase capacity, and to provide a more restful environment, conducive to a quality educational experience. We are also looking to increase the training and skills of our teachers, to help provide even better long-term growth for students and our school.
Akili Sustainable Farm
Nutrition is an ongoing concern for children in poverty with many parents forgoing lunch and sometimes dinner, and leaving hungry children unable to focus in school. Through our sustainable farm program, we can provide food security to them while they study, and also provide income for the school. We grow a variety of vegetables and also have a poultry farm. We are currently expanding production, with a goal of having 50% of the school food costs covered by the end of the year through sales from the farm. We also aim to build a biogas digester, which will provide clean energy, allowing us to meet 90% of our energy requirements.
In the future we also aim to build a library and information technology center, where students and community members can access the internet, and to gain knowledge to help them continue evolving out of poverty.
We are continually moved by the tragic stories of women in our area, and work to bring them into our care in every way we can. One story that moved us deeply was about one of our current teachers, Rose. Her husband abused her for years, and left her challenged to care for her 3 young girls. We invited them all to Akili, and through Rose’s hard work as part of our staff, her children now have a safe place to grow and learn. We look forward to supporting more women in our community that are similarly affected, and to continue working with the community to change perceptions about the role and beauty that women bring to us all.